3 Ways to Attain Sustainable Innovation
Creativity is difficult to harness, but it is necessary in order to move forward. The French artist, James Bertrand put this sentiment very succinctly when he said:
"Once we rid ourselves of traditional thinking we can get on with creating the future."
— James Bertrand
Business growth has a direct correlation with creativity. The easiest examples are from the “app revolution”; when the tiny start-up/developers write code to create an app that goes viral, and others say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Often it is the environment that surrounds the individual that enables creative thought. The National Defense University Press (NDU Press
) published US Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis’ Partnership for the Americas: Western Hemisphere Strategy and U.S. Southern Command
in which he says:
“It is often assumed that all innovation is technology related and therefore occurs primarily at the operational and tactical levels. True, technology has formed a large portion,” though, often these “come hand-in-hand with ‘strategic innovation’—that is, the creative, imaginative, and insightful thinking that targets the organizational, cultural, and paradigmatic levels. Examples of this type of philosophy include initiatives such as process improvements, nontraditional partnering, and business engagement, among others.”
Citing the military on innovation may appear to be odd because of its bureaucratic stigma, but in reality the US military gives millions of dollars to fund innovation through universities and private companies. Admiral Stavridis understands the fundamental necessity to breed innovation through the structure of the organization. The leaders create a culture of innovation and spur those that are working for them onto new procedures, new ventures, and new project structures to bring forth innovative end products. Development Dimensions International’s (DDI) study Creating the Conditions for Sustainable Innovation
prescribes a way to encourage innovation in businesses and organizations. The notion that innovation is necessary in business is not a new one, but the office culture that is needed to promote great innovation is an art form in itself.
“Seventy-two percent of CEOs ranked innovation as one of their top three strategic priorities, up eight points since FY’09.” (Innovation 2010: A Return to Prominence and the Emergence of a New World Order).
3 Ways to Attain Sustainable Innovation: Promote the Big Picture:
Encourage employees to learn about business trends and emerging issues so that they feel like they are a part of developing a solution. Every employee will want to help the cause and increase business. Be Self-Aware:
Know your organizations’ limitations and learn from past mistakes. The DDI research shows that only 47% of employees think that their organizations learn from their mistakes. Champion your employees:
Flaunt the ideas, business models, and innovations of your employees to upper management. Praising your employees and giving them credit will create a feeling of teamwork that can foster an innovative spirit amongst the office environment. The need to innovate continues in business because of the revenue that is generated by being first in innovative development. “First movers enjoy a 36 percent better stock return.” (The Global Innovation 1000: How the Top Innovators Keep Winning. Strategy + Business
). Those organizations and companies that are on the front end of innovation enjoy more profit than those that are late adopters. Knowing what idea will be the one that produces those outcomes is where great thinkers and business minds are separated from the others. Socialmediatoday.com
noted that “when asked whether their leader demonstrated unwavering openness and appreciation for unique ideas and opinions, just 43% of employees agreed. A whopping 78% of managers thought they demonstrated these traits though” from the DDI study. This inconsistency is attributed to a basic human instinct to project a good self-worth. Those managing styles that analyze employees' outward perceptions of their bosses seem to work best. The road to Creativity is paved with self awareness, and this is much more evident as management level increases.
Creating the Conditions for
Figure 1 from the Creating the Conditions for Sustainable Innovation study shows how challenges to innovation can be changed into practices that drive innovation. How does your organization deal with road blocks to innovation? ~Josef